Two healthy white rhino calves were recently welcomed at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. The first calf was born on November 21, 2013 and the second entered the world on January 3, 2014.
The calf born in November is a female and a fourth generation offspring born in human care. The calf’s mother is Sally who was also born at the Wilds in 2006. Her father is Fireball, born in 2002 at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. This is the second calf for Sally.
The second calf, born in January, is also a female and a fourth generation offspring. Her mother, Eve, was born at the Wilds in 2006 and Fireball is the father of this calf as well. This is Eve’s second calf and Fireball’s eighth.
Both mothers and calves are doing fine and will be slowly introduced to the rest of the herd after the weather warms up in the spring.
The birth of these calves are the 19th and 20th rhinos (and 14th and 15th white rhinos) born at the Wilds since 2004. The last four rhinos born at the Wilds have been born in the last four months (Sep. 2013 – Jan. 2014). The Wilds is also the only place, outside of Africa, with fourth generation offspring and has one of the largest herds of white rhinos in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
There are five species of rhinoceros; black and white rhinos are found in Africa and the greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran rhinos are found in Asia. Despite some conservation success stories all rhino species are in peril from poaching and loss of habitat.
About the southern white rhinoceros:
Southern white rhinos were almost extinct in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Effective conservation efforts in the 1950s led to the exportation of individual wild white rhinos to zoos in North America and Europe. The current wild population is estimated to be about 20,000 animals however rhino poaching in Africa has reached a record high in 2012.
Calves are born after a gestation of 16 months. White rhinos can grow to be 4,000 pounds and six feet tall at their shoulder. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands interspersed with grassy openings. Through reintroduction efforts, their current range in the wild is in southern and eastern African countries.